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Top Premier League storylines — Week 24

It's the first week of the Premier League season which follows a Manchester City league loss, so you know they make the list.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 24

It's the first week of the Premier League season which follows a Manchester City league loss, so you know they make the list.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 24

It's the first week of the Premier League season which follows a Manchester City league loss, so you know they make the list.

Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Premier League match preview

Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Premier League match preview

Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Premier League match preview

Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Premier League match preview

Chelsea make surprise Peter Crouch inquiry in bid to sign target man 

Chelsea have made inquiries about the Stoke City striker Peter Crouch as they cast their net ever wider to find a back-up to the unreliable goalscoring of Alvaro Morata and his current understudy Michy Batshuayi over this transfer window. Crouch, who turns 37 this month, is one of a list of names the club had in mind for this January transfer window, including West Ham’s Andy Carroll, who was ruled out of action on Thursday with an ankle injury that could yet necessitate surgery and a four-month lay-off. The template of a proven Premier League goalscorer, with target-man qualities, is one which Chelsea have pursued in recent weeks, although any Crouch deal would present problems. The former England international signed a one-year contract extension at Stoke in November with an option for another year and has returned to the first team amid their recent problems and Mark Hughes' sacking. Ideally Chelsea would like a loan until the end of the season, but even if Stoke were prepared to let Crouch go after seven years at the club, they would first need a replacement. Their new manager Paul Lambert has traditionally played with a target-man style forward up front. Other options considered by Chelsea have been the Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke and the Spanish forward Fernando Llorente who decided to join Tottenham Hotspur over going to Stamford Bridge in the summer when he left Swansea. Llorente has been a disappointment at Spurs with just one Premier League goal so far. January 2018 transfer window The short-termism of Chelsea’s thinking in this transfer window suggests that they do not want to commit to major changes now with Antonio Conte’s future unresolved. Crouch was a Chelsea fan as a child and was at Wembley for the 1994 FA Cup final, their first since 1970. A regular ballboy at Stamford Bridge in his childhood, he opted to sign schoolboy terms with Spurs eventually before breaking through as a professional at Queen’s Park Rangers.

Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Premier League match preview

An in-depth match preview ahead of the Arsenal v Crystal Palace match in the Premier League on January 20.

Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Premier League match preview

An in-depth match preview ahead of the Arsenal v Crystal Palace match in the Premier League on January 20.

Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Premier League match preview

An in-depth match preview ahead of the Arsenal v Crystal Palace match in the Premier League on January 20.

Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Premier League match preview

An in-depth match preview ahead of the Arsenal v Crystal Palace match in the Premier League on January 20.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks

Joe Prince-Wright predicts the scores for all 10 Premier League games this weekend.

Premier League TV, streaming schedule: MD 24

Where and how to watch all the Premier League action this weekend.

Premier League - Arsenal vs Chelsea

Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal vs Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - January 3, 2018 Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez looks dejected after Chelsea's Marcos Alonso scores their second goal Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Steven Gerrard hopes to persuade Jurgen Klopp to release Ben Woodburn for FA Youth Cup tie

Steven Gerrard is hoping he can call up Ben Woodburn for Liverpool’s FA Youth Cup tie with Arsenal this weekend when the former captain will sit in the Anfield dugout for the first time as a manager. Gerrard was granted his request by the club to use the stadium for the visit of Arsenal for the fourth-round tie on Saturday. Now he would like another favour, this time from Jürgen Klopp to release teenager Woodburn. “I haven't asked the question and no one has mentioned it to me thus far so, at the moment, it's a no,” said Gerrard. “That might change in the next 24 hours.” Klopp must weigh up whether Woodburn will be needed for the first-team squad travelling to Swansea for Monday night’s Premier League game. Although the Wales international has not featured often recently, he has still been part of the senior set-up. Gerrard is enjoying a successful first season as a coach at the club’s Academy and, while ultimately he is tasked with bringing through the next generation of first-team players, he balks at the idea that winning silverware at youth level is of secondary importance. “I'd love some of these players to go on and play for Liverpool's first team. I'd be the proudest man in the city. But I'm not coming in and taking a job at this football club if it's just about that,” says Gerrard. Steven Gerrard is loving his first full season as an Academy coach back at Liverpool Credit: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC “If we're not teaching kids about the importance of winning at a young age then maybe someone should say to me: 'You're not welcome here.' “That doesn't float my boat - turning up on the weekend and it's just about getting one player to the first team. We're hoping these players go on and have a career here. I'm doing a disservice to football and the game if I'm saying to these that winning doesn't matter because it does.”  One player Gerrard must do without is striker Rhian Brewster, the England youth international facing a lengthy spell in rehabilitation after sustaining an ankle injury. “If Rhian had not been injured he would have been available for selection and that shows how the club is with the competition,” said Gerrard. “It's a very important game and one I won't try to play down. Rhian Brewster was flying for club and country before injuring his ankle in the Premier League 2 match against Manchester City Credit: Man City via Getty Images “I don’t know the full extent [of his injury] but it is going to be a good while. I do not know the complete timescale. He needs further tests. He was in a good place, doing well for the under-23s and under-19s - and flying internationally. This happens to every footballer. You have setbacks, you grow and you learn from them as much as the good things that happen to you. He will be missing it and realise what a good position he was in and desperate to get back. Hopefully he comes back hungry and into top form as soon as possible.” With the game being held at 3pm on a Saturday, Gerrard is anticipating a healthy crowd as supporters assess the club’s teenage prospects. Entrance into Anfield is free for season ticket holders, £3 for adults and only £1 for juniors. “I hope it's big numbers because it will give the players a taste of what it feels like for real,” said Gerrard. “Preparing for a Saturday game at three o'clock in an iconic stadium, with people turning out to watch you, that brings the pressures they will be under further on in their careers. “It also gives us a chance to judge them in that environment because we need to know what they are like under this type of pressure. What are they like on this surface or with a stadium around them? Do they thrive on it or do they go the other way? As coaches we can't just judge them on what happens of a normal weekend when there is a few hundred people there. We need to put them into these environments that are close to the real thing.”

Steven Gerrard hopes to persuade Jurgen Klopp to release Ben Woodburn for FA Youth Cup tie

Steven Gerrard is hoping he can call up Ben Woodburn for Liverpool’s FA Youth Cup tie with Arsenal this weekend when the former captain will sit in the Anfield dugout for the first time as a manager. Gerrard was granted his request by the club to use the stadium for the visit of Arsenal for the fourth-round tie on Saturday. Now he would like another favour, this time from Jürgen Klopp to release teenager Woodburn. “I haven't asked the question and no one has mentioned it to me thus far so, at the moment, it's a no,” said Gerrard. “That might change in the next 24 hours.” Klopp must weigh up whether Woodburn will be needed for the first-team squad travelling to Swansea for Monday night’s Premier League game. Although the Wales international has not featured often recently, he has still been part of the senior set-up. Gerrard is enjoying a successful first season as a coach at the club’s Academy and, while ultimately he is tasked with bringing through the next generation of first-team players, he balks at the idea that winning silverware at youth level is of secondary importance. “I'd love some of these players to go on and play for Liverpool's first team. I'd be the proudest man in the city. But I'm not coming in and taking a job at this football club if it's just about that,” says Gerrard. Steven Gerrard is loving his first full season as an Academy coach back at Liverpool Credit: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC “If we're not teaching kids about the importance of winning at a young age then maybe someone should say to me: 'You're not welcome here.' “That doesn't float my boat - turning up on the weekend and it's just about getting one player to the first team. We're hoping these players go on and have a career here. I'm doing a disservice to football and the game if I'm saying to these that winning doesn't matter because it does.”  One player Gerrard must do without is striker Rhian Brewster, the England youth international facing a lengthy spell in rehabilitation after sustaining an ankle injury. “If Rhian had not been injured he would have been available for selection and that shows how the club is with the competition,” said Gerrard. “It's a very important game and one I won't try to play down. Rhian Brewster was flying for club and country before injuring his ankle in the Premier League 2 match against Manchester City Credit: Man City via Getty Images “I don’t know the full extent [of his injury] but it is going to be a good while. I do not know the complete timescale. He needs further tests. He was in a good place, doing well for the under-23s and under-19s - and flying internationally. This happens to every footballer. You have setbacks, you grow and you learn from them as much as the good things that happen to you. He will be missing it and realise what a good position he was in and desperate to get back. Hopefully he comes back hungry and into top form as soon as possible.” With the game being held at 3pm on a Saturday, Gerrard is anticipating a healthy crowd as supporters assess the club’s teenage prospects. Entrance into Anfield is free for season ticket holders, £3 for adults and only £1 for juniors. “I hope it's big numbers because it will give the players a taste of what it feels like for real,” said Gerrard. “Preparing for a Saturday game at three o'clock in an iconic stadium, with people turning out to watch you, that brings the pressures they will be under further on in their careers. “It also gives us a chance to judge them in that environment because we need to know what they are like under this type of pressure. What are they like on this surface or with a stadium around them? Do they thrive on it or do they go the other way? As coaches we can't just judge them on what happens of a normal weekend when there is a few hundred people there. We need to put them into these environments that are close to the real thing.”

Steven Gerrard hopes to persuade Jurgen Klopp to release Ben Woodburn for FA Youth Cup tie

Steven Gerrard is hoping he can call up Ben Woodburn for Liverpool’s FA Youth Cup tie with Arsenal this weekend when the former captain will sit in the Anfield dugout for the first time as a manager. Gerrard was granted his request by the club to use the stadium for the visit of Arsenal for the fourth-round tie on Saturday. Now he would like another favour, this time from Jürgen Klopp to release teenager Woodburn. “I haven't asked the question and no one has mentioned it to me thus far so, at the moment, it's a no,” said Gerrard. “That might change in the next 24 hours.” Klopp must weigh up whether Woodburn will be needed for the first-team squad travelling to Swansea for Monday night’s Premier League game. Although the Wales international has not featured often recently, he has still been part of the senior set-up. Gerrard is enjoying a successful first season as a coach at the club’s Academy and, while ultimately he is tasked with bringing through the next generation of first-team players, he balks at the idea that winning silverware at youth level is of secondary importance. “I'd love some of these players to go on and play for Liverpool's first team. I'd be the proudest man in the city. But I'm not coming in and taking a job at this football club if it's just about that,” says Gerrard. Steven Gerrard is loving his first full season as an Academy coach back at Liverpool Credit: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC “If we're not teaching kids about the importance of winning at a young age then maybe someone should say to me: 'You're not welcome here.' “That doesn't float my boat - turning up on the weekend and it's just about getting one player to the first team. We're hoping these players go on and have a career here. I'm doing a disservice to football and the game if I'm saying to these that winning doesn't matter because it does.”  One player Gerrard must do without is striker Rhian Brewster, the England youth international facing a lengthy spell in rehabilitation after sustaining an ankle injury. “If Rhian had not been injured he would have been available for selection and that shows how the club is with the competition,” said Gerrard. “It's a very important game and one I won't try to play down. Rhian Brewster was flying for club and country before injuring his ankle in the Premier League 2 match against Manchester City Credit: Man City via Getty Images “I don’t know the full extent [of his injury] but it is going to be a good while. I do not know the complete timescale. He needs further tests. He was in a good place, doing well for the under-23s and under-19s - and flying internationally. This happens to every footballer. You have setbacks, you grow and you learn from them as much as the good things that happen to you. He will be missing it and realise what a good position he was in and desperate to get back. Hopefully he comes back hungry and into top form as soon as possible.” With the game being held at 3pm on a Saturday, Gerrard is anticipating a healthy crowd as supporters assess the club’s teenage prospects. Entrance into Anfield is free for season ticket holders, £3 for adults and only £1 for juniors. “I hope it's big numbers because it will give the players a taste of what it feels like for real,” said Gerrard. “Preparing for a Saturday game at three o'clock in an iconic stadium, with people turning out to watch you, that brings the pressures they will be under further on in their careers. “It also gives us a chance to judge them in that environment because we need to know what they are like under this type of pressure. What are they like on this surface or with a stadium around them? Do they thrive on it or do they go the other way? As coaches we can't just judge them on what happens of a normal weekend when there is a few hundred people there. We need to put them into these environments that are close to the real thing.”

24e j. - 5 choses à savoir

Kane le détonateur, Aguero en verve contre Newcastle, Pogba généreux : voic les 5 choses à savoir sur la 24e journée de Premier League.

24e j. - 5 choses à savoir

Kane le détonateur, Aguero en verve contre Newcastle, Pogba généreux : voic les 5 choses à savoir sur la 24e journée de Premier League.

24e j. - 5 choses à savoir

Kane le détonateur, Aguero en verve contre Newcastle, Pogba généreux : voic les 5 choses à savoir sur la 24e journée de Premier League.

24e j. - 5 choses à savoir

Kane le détonateur, Aguero en verve contre Newcastle, Pogba généreux : voic les 5 choses à savoir sur la 24e journée de Premier League.

24e j. - 5 choses à savoir

Kane le détonateur, Aguero en verve contre Newcastle, Pogba généreux : voic les 5 choses à savoir sur la 24e journée de Premier League.

24e j. - 5 choses à savoir

Kane le détonateur, Aguero en verve contre Newcastle, Pogba généreux : voic les 5 choses à savoir sur la 24e journée de Premier League.

Premier League - Arsenal vs Chelsea

Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal vs Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - January 3, 2018 Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez in action. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

VAR should have overturned Willian's yellow for diving and could have awarded a Chelsea penalty, referees body admits

The competence of the Premier League’s panel of Video Assistant Referees was called into question on Thursday after it emerged a review had been botched during Chelsea’s FA Cup win over Norwich City. As revealed by Telegraph Sport, Mike Jones’s failure to watch a super slow motion replay of a penalty incident involving Willian meant a booking for diving issued to him was wrongly allowed to stand during extra-time of Wednesday night’s third-round replay. Jones’s bosses at Professional Game Match Officials Ltd are also understood to accept it would not have been wrong for a penalty to have been awarded either for Timm Klose’s tackle on Willian. Jones allowing Graham Scott’s on-field decision to stand infuriated Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, with Willian adamant he was fouled and even Klose admitting he should have been penalised for his challenge. The VAR blunder emerged when the BBC, which was covering the match live, showed a super slow motion replay proving there had been contact between Klose’s leg and Willian’s right foot. Willian goes down under Timm Klose's challenge Credit: PA Despite watching the incident 10 times, including from the decisive angle, Jones failed to slow down his own footage to the same speed and was, therefore, under the misapprehension no contact had been made and Willian had dived. He duly decided Scott had not made a ‘clear and obvious error’ both in not awarding a penalty nor in booking the winger. Had he slowed the footage down, it is understood he would have been within his rights to reach a different conclusion. It is also understood the decision to book Willian is considered by PGMOL to have been absolutely the wrong one and should definitely have been overturned. That would have meant the game being restarted with a drop ball in the area had a penalty not been awarded. Jones took 44 seconds to review the incident and it is understood VARs could be instructed to spend more time looking at replays at both normal speed and super slow motion to avoid a repeat of Wednesday night’s error. Willian has no right of appeal against his yellow card, which can only be rescinded in the immediate aftermath of a booking for diving in the box. One of the architects of VAR, former Premier League referee David Elleray, last night admitted “teething problems” were inevitable during what have been live trials of the technology which began last week. The technical director of the International Football Association Board told The Telegraph: “This is only the fourth time in a competitive match that it has been used in England and there will always be teething problems. “We must remember that, we, in England are in the very early stages of getting used to this. But what it also highlights is that there are some decisions that are neither clearly black nor white. “And, in principle, the original decision stands unless it is shown to be clearly and obviously wrong.” Antonio Conte wasn't happy with the decision Credit: Reuters PGMOL declined to comment on Wednesday’s mistake but is also understood to feel such teething problems are part of the process of perfecting VAR ahead of its expected rollout next season. Jones was also the VAR for Leicester City’s third-round replay victory over Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night in which he correctly overturned the disallowing of a goal for offside. It is also a matter of fact that had Wednesday’s game not been part of the VAR trial, Willian would still have been booked for diving. Jones’s mistake, and those made elsewhere during similar experiments conducted in other countries, will not prevent VAR being adopted into the Laws of the Game in time for the World Cup. A decision in principle on the matter will be taken at Monday’s IFAB annual business meeting ahead of formal ratification at its annual general meeting in March. A well-placed source told The Telegraph the clamour for VAR was growing, pointing out the reaction to Watford’s handball goal in their Premier League draw against Southampton. He said: “You only need to go back to last Saturday and the Watford game and the headlines everywhere, ‘Where was the VAR when you wanted him?’ “And that’s what people would say if football didn’t go ahead with it.”  

VAR should have overturned Willian's yellow for diving and could have awarded a Chelsea penalty, referees body admits

The competence of the Premier League’s panel of Video Assistant Referees was called into question on Thursday after it emerged a review had been botched during Chelsea’s FA Cup win over Norwich City. As revealed by Telegraph Sport, Mike Jones’s failure to watch a super slow motion replay of a penalty incident involving Willian meant a booking for diving issued to him was wrongly allowed to stand during extra-time of Wednesday night’s third-round replay. Jones’s bosses at Professional Game Match Officials Ltd are also understood to accept it would not have been wrong for a penalty to have been awarded either for Timm Klose’s tackle on Willian. Jones allowing Graham Scott’s on-field decision to stand infuriated Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, with Willian adamant he was fouled and even Klose admitting he should have been penalised for his challenge. The VAR blunder emerged when the BBC, which was covering the match live, showed a super slow motion replay proving there had been contact between Klose’s leg and Willian’s right foot. Willian goes down under Timm Klose's challenge Credit: PA Despite watching the incident 10 times, including from the decisive angle, Jones failed to slow down his own footage to the same speed and was, therefore, under the misapprehension no contact had been made and Willian had dived. He duly decided Scott had not made a ‘clear and obvious error’ both in not awarding a penalty nor in booking the winger. Had he slowed the footage down, it is understood he would have been within his rights to reach a different conclusion. It is also understood the decision to book Willian is considered by PGMOL to have been absolutely the wrong one and should definitely have been overturned. That would have meant the game being restarted with a drop ball in the area had a penalty not been awarded. Jones took 44 seconds to review the incident and it is understood VARs could be instructed to spend more time looking at replays at both normal speed and super slow motion to avoid a repeat of Wednesday night’s error. Willian has no right of appeal against his yellow card, which can only be rescinded in the immediate aftermath of a booking for diving in the box. One of the architects of VAR, former Premier League referee David Elleray, last night admitted “teething problems” were inevitable during what have been live trials of the technology which began last week. The technical director of the International Football Association Board told The Telegraph: “This is only the fourth time in a competitive match that it has been used in England and there will always be teething problems. “We must remember that, we, in England are in the very early stages of getting used to this. But what it also highlights is that there are some decisions that are neither clearly black nor white. “And, in principle, the original decision stands unless it is shown to be clearly and obviously wrong.” Antonio Conte wasn't happy with the decision Credit: Reuters PGMOL declined to comment on Wednesday’s mistake but is also understood to feel such teething problems are part of the process of perfecting VAR ahead of its expected rollout next season. Jones was also the VAR for Leicester City’s third-round replay victory over Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night in which he correctly overturned the disallowing of a goal for offside. It is also a matter of fact that had Wednesday’s game not been part of the VAR trial, Willian would still have been booked for diving. Jones’s mistake, and those made elsewhere during similar experiments conducted in other countries, will not prevent VAR being adopted into the Laws of the Game in time for the World Cup. A decision in principle on the matter will be taken at Monday’s IFAB annual business meeting ahead of formal ratification at its annual general meeting in March. A well-placed source told The Telegraph the clamour for VAR was growing, pointing out the reaction to Watford’s handball goal in their Premier League draw against Southampton. He said: “You only need to go back to last Saturday and the Watford game and the headlines everywhere, ‘Where was the VAR when you wanted him?’ “And that’s what people would say if football didn’t go ahead with it.”  

VAR should have overturned Willian's yellow for diving and could have awarded a Chelsea penalty, referees body admits

The competence of the Premier League’s panel of Video Assistant Referees was called into question on Thursday after it emerged a review had been botched during Chelsea’s FA Cup win over Norwich City. As revealed by Telegraph Sport, Mike Jones’s failure to watch a super slow motion replay of a penalty incident involving Willian meant a booking for diving issued to him was wrongly allowed to stand during extra-time of Wednesday night’s third-round replay. Jones’s bosses at Professional Game Match Officials Ltd are also understood to accept it would not have been wrong for a penalty to have been awarded either for Timm Klose’s tackle on Willian. Jones allowing Graham Scott’s on-field decision to stand infuriated Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, with Willian adamant he was fouled and even Klose admitting he should have been penalised for his challenge. The VAR blunder emerged when the BBC, which was covering the match live, showed a super slow motion replay proving there had been contact between Klose’s leg and Willian’s right foot. Willian goes down under Timm Klose's challenge Credit: PA Despite watching the incident 10 times, including from the decisive angle, Jones failed to slow down his own footage to the same speed and was, therefore, under the misapprehension no contact had been made and Willian had dived. He duly decided Scott had not made a ‘clear and obvious error’ both in not awarding a penalty nor in booking the winger. Had he slowed the footage down, it is understood he would have been within his rights to reach a different conclusion. It is also understood the decision to book Willian is considered by PGMOL to have been absolutely the wrong one and should definitely have been overturned. That would have meant the game being restarted with a drop ball in the area had a penalty not been awarded. Jones took 44 seconds to review the incident and it is understood VARs could be instructed to spend more time looking at replays at both normal speed and super slow motion to avoid a repeat of Wednesday night’s error. Willian has no right of appeal against his yellow card, which can only be rescinded in the immediate aftermath of a booking for diving in the box. One of the architects of VAR, former Premier League referee David Elleray, last night admitted “teething problems” were inevitable during what have been live trials of the technology which began last week. The technical director of the International Football Association Board told The Telegraph: “This is only the fourth time in a competitive match that it has been used in England and there will always be teething problems. “We must remember that, we, in England are in the very early stages of getting used to this. But what it also highlights is that there are some decisions that are neither clearly black nor white. “And, in principle, the original decision stands unless it is shown to be clearly and obviously wrong.” Antonio Conte wasn't happy with the decision Credit: Reuters PGMOL declined to comment on Wednesday’s mistake but is also understood to feel such teething problems are part of the process of perfecting VAR ahead of its expected rollout next season. Jones was also the VAR for Leicester City’s third-round replay victory over Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night in which he correctly overturned the disallowing of a goal for offside. It is also a matter of fact that had Wednesday’s game not been part of the VAR trial, Willian would still have been booked for diving. Jones’s mistake, and those made elsewhere during similar experiments conducted in other countries, will not prevent VAR being adopted into the Laws of the Game in time for the World Cup. A decision in principle on the matter will be taken at Monday’s IFAB annual business meeting ahead of formal ratification at its annual general meeting in March. A well-placed source told The Telegraph the clamour for VAR was growing, pointing out the reaction to Watford’s handball goal in their Premier League draw against Southampton. He said: “You only need to go back to last Saturday and the Watford game and the headlines everywhere, ‘Where was the VAR when you wanted him?’ “And that’s what people would say if football didn’t go ahead with it.”  

La alineación del Manchester City vs. Newcastle: alineación, día, hora y cómo verlo

El conjunto de Pep Guardiola vuelve a la Premier League para defender su tremenda renta de puntos frente a las Urracas

La alineación del Manchester City vs. Newcastle: alineación, día, hora y cómo verlo

El conjunto de Pep Guardiola vuelve a la Premier League para defender su tremenda renta de puntos frente a las Urracas

La alineación del Manchester City vs. Newcastle: alineación, día, hora y cómo verlo

El conjunto de Pep Guardiola vuelve a la Premier League para defender su tremenda renta de puntos frente a las Urracas

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Aubameyang to Arsenal; Sturridge to leave

The latest gossip from around the Premier League.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Aubameyang to Arsenal; Sturridge to leave

The latest gossip from around the Premier League.

Premier League - Huddersfield Town vs West Ham United

Soccer Football - Premier League - Huddersfield Town vs West Ham United - John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield, Britain - January 13, 2018 Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

Premier League - Huddersfield Town vs West Ham United

Soccer Football - Premier League - Huddersfield Town vs West Ham United - John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield, Britain - January 13, 2018 Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff/Files

Premier League Power Rankings

Who are the top 20 players in the PL heading into Week 24?

Dortmund leave Aubameyang out amid Arsenal links

The Gabon striker is expected to complete a move to the Premier League in the current transfer window and has been dropped for his current side

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

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